Monday, May 26, 2014

on symmetry and patience

do you have obsessions? okay, obsession may be a bit strong. but, as i've said before, i get things into my head and they just, ummmm, stick. my latest design fixation is symmetry. i've never been a big fan of matchy-matchy, symmetrical designs... until now. maybe i'm feeling unbalanced in my personal life? the lie of work-life balance? eh, instead of paying for therapy, i'll just explore my inner psyche through the redecoration of our house. win-win.

there are two places i've been especially craving the symmetry: matching nightstands for our master bedroom and a pair of arm chairs for the living room. the nightstands are abundant - i'm really into these right now:

cb2 audrey nightstand

great, right? waiting for them to go on sale. well, and waiting for a new bed frame on craigslist. not totally in love with what we have now. 

the armchairs, however, were a different story. not abundant. especially in our price range and style. phil really REALLY likes matching mid-century armchairs. in wood. with vertical back slats. a tall order to fill at any price, much less under $400 for both, finished. which means including new cushions and/or wood refinishing. ha. it was a search for a unicorn. a flying unicorn. matching flying unicorns. 

we did the usual: craigslist every day, ebay, 1stdibs, estate sales. then a friend suggested we try auctions, so we went down to old town alexandria for brunch and a live auction with another couple. they've done auctions before (they have a beautiful art collection), so it was a great introduction to the sport. the potomack auction house had a small mid-century lot up that saturday. we previewed online and saw that there was a pair of chairs, exactly matching what we wanted. we did a little research on the design manufacturer to figure out pricing and set our max before we even downed a mimosa! (i've been shopping in vegas before!! haha)

when we got there, the auction was in full swing. there was a room full of furniture and art, and then a room full of chairs for bidders. we checked in and got our paddle. so exciting! then we sat down and watched to see the rhythm of the auctioneer and bidders. he spoke fast, like in movies. and people just raised their paddles. there were also tables on either side of room, with several women on the phones with clients and also watching the online portion of the bidding. 

they finally got to our lot, the pair of beautiful chairs. the bidding started low, around $300 i think. we raised our paddle. and then were outbid. we upped it. our max was going to be $400 (maybe $450 if we got carried away). welllll it didn't really matter. someone online bid almost $800. eight. hundred. dollars!!!!! needless to say, we were out. fun adventure, but no dice.

well, i've been working a fair amount from home on the weekend lately. and using my mental breaks to search for chairs and nightstands on craigslist. i actually just search "pair" and see what comes up. because i wouldn't say no to a nice pair of lamps either... anyway, lo and behold, i stumbled across a pair of chairs. in wood. with vertical back slats. FOR $50!!!! INCLUDING A SIDE TABLE!!!!!! we were starting the car to pick it up before we even finished calling to see if they were available. i had just lost on a gorgeous pair of campaign-style nightstands and i was not taking no for an answer this time.  

hello, gorgeous!! we drove as fast as legally possible out to the maryland suburbs and loaded them into our car. the table is not 100% our style. and the triangle shape makes it awkward to put in a small space. the wood is scratched on all three pieces.

and the cushions are gross. she had at least one cat, and there are claw marks all over the place. we brought the set home and THOROUGHLY cleaned them (number 1 rule of craigslist - clean before it gets in your house!) and did a good coat of lemon oil on all the wood. already looking happier. now i'm searching for the perfect fabric for the new cushions. and a good upholsterer. i'm not going to kid myself that i can bring these beauties back to life with my meager sewing skills. so any suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

planning my garden

we've been here two years. two crazy years! things are coming together in the house, so now i need to turn more of my energy outdoors. i've done a few things. i cleaned up a lot of the plants that were not my style. we also decided that we're going to add grass... i know, i know. it seems counter-intuitive. especially as big fans of xeriscape and edible landscaping. but we want to get more light into our basement and have a little spot of grass for future dogs and / or kiddos to play : )

my style is cottage garden. old lady cutting flowers, vegetables and herbs. a backdrop of boxwoods and hydrangeas behind dahlias and rosemary. i think it fits with our 1929 house. and it fits with our life. i cook a fair amount, and i LOVE to be able to cut fresh herbs from the garden. we also entertain and i also LOVE to have fresh flowers in the house when we have guests. so my plan is to move some things around and plant with seeds for most everything else. plants are expensive!!

this is an old image of the front of our house. you can see it is missing our front walk. but you can also see a rough idea of the plan : ) we have some great existing plants: azaleas in white, pink, red; peonies; lilac; dogwood; hydrangeas; roses; irises; tulips; and infinite day lilies. i'm so grateful that we aren't starting from scratch. we've moved the azaleas and peonies toward the front (marked cutting garden above) and i've been slowly relocating all of our day lilies to the front of the kitchen garden area. a mass of blooming flowers is just so lovely, no? we'll seed grass in the fall and take it from there!